The blessings of traveling with children

article from the World Family Yoga newsletter, summer 2007

Peggy Profant, certified Anusara Yoga instructorTravel has always been one of my greatest teachers ever –connecting with new cultures, moving out of one’s comfort zone, searching for adventure, beauty and freedom, exploring, tasting, entering the domain of new sensations, experiences that lead to greater understanding of yourself of the world you live in, an expansion of your consciousness on so many different levels.

If you are a parent, you know that traveling with children changes the dynamic of travel significantly. Adapting to the new needs that arise when we care for the well being and happiness of the little ones on the road can be challenging. I’ve been doing it since my children were born. ( I think I must have been a gypsy or a member of a nomadic tribe in a past life!) My friends thought I would slow down after having children, “Have children will travel!” I say. Below I have compiled a few suggestions that I would like to offer for those who have the travel bug and want to enjoy it fully with their children. I have been inspired by the 3 A’s of Anusara Yoga: Attitude, Allignment and Action. Enjoy!

ATTITUDE: Setting the attitude, the foundation of your journey is essential. Open to the Grace of parenthood! When traveling with my children my mantra is: “It’s all about the children being happy!” Most parents yearn for the care free traveling the grew accustomed to before having children. Eat and sleep wherever and whenever, go out until wee hours, walk for hours on end... If needed, carve time out of your year for that type of adult only travel because when traveling with kids, “It’s all about making the children happy!” I remind my husband and myself of this when the children spot a great stream that they just need to play in, “please, please, please!” – mind you, we are only five minutes into our journey. And we just have to stop because it is “all about the children being happy!” If the children are happy, we are happy! Their smiling faces bring blessings to the road.

ALLIGNMENT: Our foundation is set, we know where we are headed and how we are going to get there (most of the time!), and then comes taking care of the basics, or aligning with the little traveling body’s basic needs…namely: food, drink and plenty of play.

Food
appleBe prepared. Snacking is good. Rarely are all of us hungry at exactly the same time. We have come to accept that the snack food bag is actually more important than any other luggage or carry on. I know a mother who brings favorite healthy snacks from back home when traveling over seas, mostly bars and fruit strips, an option to consider.

Drink
soda canPlenty of it! When traveling we are often exposed to so many foods and drinks that are not the healthiest. In this domain I have learned to surrender, pray and trust that all of my good healthy food choices make up for “Fanta” or that other soda that new friends insist on buying my child! Always keep a water bottle handy to fend off thirst for less healthy substances.

Children need to play
child playingThrough their play, children not only expend physical growing energy, but they also process their thoughts, their emotions, and their experiences. Play with them to help them process, to teach them and help guide them through the different, new physical, emotional and spiritual experiences. I have learned that the best way to introduce new destinations to my children is through story telling. Before arriving, I begin to weave a tale that will spark their interest, give them historical facts and information and draw them into what might otherwise be just one more national park or castle or museum. Begin with “Once upon a time, many years ago…” Draw them into the experience in a playful way. Be aware of running from this site or attraction to the next. Slow down, see less and schedule time for pure open ended, uninterrupted play. A museum can be boring for a child, but not if you make it playful or skip a site because play is more important. Yes I recommend bringing along some favorite toys on your journey, especially comforting or teaching toys, but be open to purchasing or finding new treasures along the way. Objects that will spark years of memory and inspiration... Books, rocks, sticks, local crafts… and make plenty of time to enjoy them throughout your travel.

ACTION: After setting the attitude of our journey and aligning with our bodies' nature and the nature around us, in Anusara yoga we put energy into Action. When we are traveling, this brings up one particular action for me: to FLOW…For me, traveling with children redefined the concept of “flow”. Boundless patience and positivity bring many magical vacation moments. I recommend that parents and children carve out quiet times at the beginning or end of each day for meditation and yoga. I have learned to cherish these moments. . Setting a family intention is another wonderful thing to do. Then be open and receptive. Just as muscular energy teaches us, hug into the beauty around you, soak up the moment. As we experience the action of Anusara’s Organic energy, allow your family’s beauty and energy to expand out into the new and often foreign surrounding. Free from expectations, judgements, and fear, our travel is what it is. Just flow through it and enjoy. Move with it, jive, roll, “when in Rome, do as the Romans”, pulsate with where you are and with whom you are with. Recognize that the action of flowing is both muscular and organic, there is a give and a take. As we learn from our yoga practice, we set boundries with our “no’s “ so we can experience the bigger “yes”.

On our journeys we set our intentions and attitude and open to grace, ready for anything and everything to happen to us. We align ourselves, preparing ourselves physically and we set off, moving sometimes energetically in one direction, sometimes organically in another, pulsating with the situations that arise on the glorious, mysterious, and ever interesting and educating road. Every moment the family travels together is an opportunity for all of us to grow and learn individually and to bond as a family. Embrace the blessings! They will last you all a life time!